Larry Hogan Still Riding High In Maryland, Even With Democrats

We all knew Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan had a lot on his plate. Personally, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June. Politically, he was a Republican governor in a deep-blue state with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Yet, somehow, he’s managed to draw praise from across the political spectrum in a new Baltimore Sun/University of Baltimore poll, where Marylanders also feel that their state is finally heading in the right direction. A far cry from the numbers seen during the O’Malley administration:

Less than a year into his term, Hogan's approval rating among likely voters has soared to 63 percent and exceeds that of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, typically the state's most popular politician, the poll found. She is supported by 61 percent of voters.

The governor's popularity is coupled to a dramatic swing in optimism about Maryland's future.

A majority of likely voters — 57 percent — now believe the state is moving in the right direction. It marks what pollster Steve Raabe calls an "enormous" swing in attitudes from the final months of former Gov. Martin O'Malley's tenure, when only 44 percent felt that way.

"You almost never see that sort of shift," said Raabe, president of Annapolis-based OpinionWorks, which conducted the poll. "Everybody, regardless of political stripe, feels like we're moving in the right direction."


His populist moves, such as lowering tolls on the Bay Bridge, and his relative newness in office have contributed to high approval ratings, Raabe said. Hogan is enjoying "an extended honeymoon," Raabe said, especially among Democrats in state where they outnumber Republicans more than 2-1.

"I'm a strong, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. And I approve," said Larry Regan, a 61-year-old lawyer from Rockville. "Hogan appears to be taking action. … I like his work on tolls. Boom. Doing something."

Gov. Hogan was recently declared cancer-free. And his approval rating seems to be holding steady from his October numbers, where the Washington Post noted that he enjoyed a 61 percent approval rating in October; a huge jump from his 42 percent rating in February.

Keep up the good work, governor.

Texas Health Commissioner Threatens Lawsuit Over Refugees

Texas accepts 10 percent of the refugees seeking safety from religious persecution – more than any other state. The influx of migrants has forced state officials to balance their open door policy with the safety of native Texans. Gov. Greg Abbott has already declared that his state will not accept any Syrian refugees. Yet, resettlement groups, like the International Rescue Committee, have thus far proved to be uncooperative on this front. Texas health commissioner Chris Traylor wrote a letter to the executive director of the committee's Dallas branch, Donna Duvin, warning that she will face a lawsuit if her group doesn’t adhere to Abbott’s directive:

Specifically, your agency insists on resettling certain refugees from Syria in the near future. I must ask that you fulfill your statutory duty to conduct your activities “in close cooperation and advance consultation” with the State of Texas pursuant to section 1522 of Title 8 of the United States Code. If you remain unwilling to cooperate with the state on this matter, we strongly believe that a failure to cooperate with the State on this matter violates federal law and your contract with the state.

Traylor has reason to be concerned about Texans’ safety, especially after the terror attacks in Paris last month that left 130 people dead. 

The potential for ISIS to infiltrate our borders under the guise of a refugee status cannot be overlooked. In fact, it’s why a majority of states are refusing to accept Syrian refugees until their security concerns can be addressed. As it stands, the FBI has admitted the screening process is nowhere near as thorough as it needs to be.

Traylor will send similar warnings to any resettlement group that places refugee rights over Americans’ safety. His letter has Gov. Abbott’s blessing.

Classy: Climate Change Protesters Destroy Memorial For Paris Terror Attack Victims

Global warming/climate change protesters kept things super classy in Paris yesterday ahead of the global Conference of the Parties Climate Change Summit, which President Obama is currently attending. Not only did protesters destroy a memorial left in remembrance of those killed by ISIS terrorists a little over one week ago, they picked up candles dedicated to victims and threw them at police. 

H/T Twitchy

About Those 'Significant' Airstrikes on ISIS–We Ran Out Of Ammo On One Of Them

So, remember those airstrikes last weekend that were deemed somewhat significant since we destroyed close to 500 tanker trucks? CBS News reported that the U.S. hadn’t gone after the Islamic State’s source of revenue for fear of killing civilian truckers. Yet, in at least one of the two strikes carried out, our aircraft actually ran out of ammo:
American A-10 and C-130 warplanes targeted a group of about 300 trucks near Abu Kamal, in Syria. Given that the Islamic State is thought to have just over 1,000 trucks in its entire fleet, the group of 300 represented a huge target for U.S. planes. At a Pentagon news conference last Wednesday, reporters wanted to know why American forces did not take out more than 116 trucks. Why not all 300, or something close to that? A U.S. official said the American attackers simply ran out of ammunition. "There were 300, I think, to begin with, and then you hit 116. Why didn't you go back?" a reporter asked Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren. "Frankly, the aircraft expended 24 500-pound bombs, and all of their ammunition," Warren answered. "So they — they shot everything they had and then they had to go home."

France and Russia are taking the lead in the fight against ISIS. And placed the Obama White House in a position where it embodies (yet again) the criticism that this administration either leads from behind or is outright aloof on how to lead an effort such as this. Then again, our president isn't concerned about “pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning,” which is contrary to what he outlined in his 2015 national security strategy. Oh, the irony.   

Just like Iraq, this president is looking to “run out the clock.” President Obama probably knows that ground forces will be needed to truly finish off ISIS. It’ll be smaller in scope, but he’s sure as hell doesn’t want to be in office when that decision is made, even if delaying means exacerbating a national security issue for us and our allies. The same logic could be tagged to the Iran deal. Commentators have written previously that all this deal truly does is delay a military decision; something that Obama desperately wants while he’s still in office. The Free Beacon reported that the Obama administration blocks 75 percent of airstrike requests. Why? Again, it’s out of fear of civilian casualties. It’s a classic move to prevent further escalation, or the horrific notion that our military might actually get the job done. And even with those protocols, the situation has already escalated; Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter. As a result, an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels has been called later this afternoon. Brussels itself remains on high alert for a possible terror attack–and France is still recovering from their horrific ISIS-led Paris attack on November 13. At the same time, France bombed the ISIS capital of Al-Raqqah, and they’ve declared to increase their involvement in the region after this “act of war.”

As for U.S. strategy, we’ve seen a $500 million rebel training program collapse; a president unwilling to bomb the source of the enemy’s revenue, and our plan to capture the ISIS capital beginning to suffer the same fate as the training program since we really don’t know what happened to the 50 tons of ammo we airdropped in last month. No wonder only 23 percent of Americans feel we have a cogent strategy to defeat ISIS.

#PopeBars Trends on Twitter as Users Imagine Pope Francis Rapping

Twitter users have noticed for a while that when Pope Francis is photographed, it sometimes looks like he's about to start rapping.

On Monday, an image of Pope Francis speaking in Africa prompted the hashtag "#PopeBars" to trend on Twitter, as users imagined what subjects the pontiff could be rapping about.

Here are some of the funniest examples:

Pope Francis departed from his first pilgrimage to the African continent today after spending the past six days visiting three countries.

Hillary Had Ample Time To Meet With Big Corporate Donors During Time at State Department

According to a new report from the Associated Press, Hillary Clinton had regular openings in her schedule to meet with wealthy donors to the Clinton Foundation during her time as Secretary of State: 

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton opened her office to dozens of influential Democratic party fundraisers, former Clinton administration and campaign loyalists, and corporate donors to her family's global charity, according to State Department calendars obtained by The Associated Press.

The woman who would become a 2016 presidential candidate met or spoke by phone with nearly 100 corporate executives and long-time Clinton political and charity donors during her four years at the State Department between 2009 and 2013, records show. Those formally scheduled meetings involved heads of companies and organizations that pursued business or private interests with the Obama administration, including with the State Department while Clinton was in charge.

The AP found no evidence of legal or ethical conflicts in Clinton's meetings in its examination of 1,294 pages from the calendars. Her sit-downs with business leaders were not unique among recent secretaries of state, who sometimes summoned corporate executives to aid in international affairs, documents show.

But the difference with Clinton's meetings was that she was a 2008 presidential contender who was widely expected to run again in 2016. Her availability to luminaries from politics, business and charity shows the extent to which her office became a sounding board for their interests. And her ties with so many familiar faces from those intersecting worlds were complicated by their lucrative financial largess and political support over the years — even during her State Department tenure — to her campaigns, her husband's and to her family's foundation.

There are a number of reason's why Clinton's schedule at the State Department is relevant, but the news in this report is most relevant to allegations made in the book Clinton Cash earlier this year, which was about Clinton's habit of doing political favors in her capacity as Secretary in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation. 

Further, this once again brings up the issues surrounding Clinton's use of a private email server during her time at State, her decision to delete 60,000 emails she deemed "personal" and without oversight before leaving her position.

And finally, these schedules won't do Clinton any favors on the campaign trail as she attempts to distance herself from corporations and Wall Street.

Former DIA Director: Manipulated ISIS Intel Probe 'Ought to Start at the Top'

Last week, Fox News and the Daily Beast followed-up on a September report in which dozens of US intelligence professionals accused their superiors of "cooking" intelligence assessments related to the threat posed by ISIS. There was a "persistent effort... to downplay or even change reports that that questioned how much progress a U.S.-led coalition is making in the Obama administration’s stated goal to degrade, destroy, and defeat ISIS. Draft reports that contained a more pessimistic view, or that questioned the efficacy of hitting certain targets, were sent back to the analysts for more extensive rewriting," the Daily Beast reported.  Who gave these orders and why?  We floated an obvious theory: The Obama administration suppressed and discouraged analyses that failed to align with a self-serving political narrative to which the White House has been wedded since at least 2012.  This speculation isn't merely intuitive; several pieces of evidence support it, including intelligence officials' murmurs about "political pressures from Washington" dating back as far as the late summer.  The New York Times also reported that America's former Defense Intelligence chief has alleged that Team Obama ignored 'dire' warnings about ISIS' rise in 2012 because they "didn't meet the narrative."  That same official, former DIA director Michael Flynn, has been leveling serious accusations for months, asserting that the White House's failed policies are attributable to a series of "willful decisions" to ignore clear intelligence:

Flynn told Fox News' Megyn Kelly last week that based on his personal experience, the probe into manipulated ISIS intelligence should start inside the Obama White House:

"The warnings that have been provided on the rise of radical Islamists over the last few years have been very, very clear. So what the president has actually received from the national intelligence system is pretty good intelligence, and I would say it's very accurate...The focus of this investigation -- and they'll find whatever they're going to find in terms of the tactical issues at CENTCOM -- but the focus of this investigation ought to start at the top. Where intelligence starts and stops is at the White House. The president sets the priorities, and he's the number one customer [of intelligence]."

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes quotes several current and former US intelligence professionals who allege that the administration has a long record of ignoring and concealing politically unhelpful information.  This issue came to a head, they say, over the handling of data retrieved during the Bin Laden raid that contradicted the administration's rosy public pronouncements:

The current storm over ISIS intelligence is not a new controversy, though most of the media are treating it as such. It’s better understood as an installment in a long-running scandal that extends beyond CENTCOM in Tampa, into the upper reaches of the U.S. intelligence community and perhaps into the White House...Taken together, this new primary-source intelligence [gathered at the Bin Laden compound] undercut happy-talk from the White House about progress in defeating jihadist terror. Al Qaeda wasn’t dying; it was growing. The Afghan Taliban wasn’t moderating; its leaders were as close to al Qaeda as ever. The same Iranian regime promising to abide by the terms of a deal to limit its nuclear program had provided safe haven for al Qaeda leaders and their families and had facilitated al Qaeda attacks on the interests of the United States and its allies...

Analysts on the CENTCOM/DIA team were told they could not include information from the bin Laden documents in finished intelligence products. As word of the contents of the documents began to circulate informally in intelligence circles, one official on the team was summoned to Washington and ordered to quit analyzing the documents. To date, only a fraction of the document collection has been fully exploited, and fewer than 150 of the documents have been declassified and released...“We were certainly blocked from seeing all the documents, and we were given limited time and resources to exploit the ones we had,” says Michael Pregent, a DIA analyst on the CENTCOM team. In late spring 2012, the CENTCOM team received approval from Clapper’s office to review the documents uninterrupted for five days at the National Media Exploitation Center in McLean, Virginia. CIA director David Petraeus, whose agency retained executive authority over the collection, supported the trip. But shortly after the visit was approved, it was canceled. The travel “was canceled hours before our trip by the NSC,” says Pregent, and the CENTCOM team was “disbanded” a short time later.

The NSC is the president's National Security Council, and the CENTCOM intelligence team was told the decision to disband was triggered by sequestration. Hayes' sources say this incident, and the reengineering and burying of ISIS intelligence, wasn't unusual:

This was not an isolated incident. Four sources with knowledge of the bin Laden documents tell TWS that the White House was intimately involved in limiting access to [evidence]. NSC officials handpicked the first set of documents released to the public—chosen to reinforce the impression that bin Laden was weak and isolated when he was killed and that al Qaeda was in disarray. The release of those documents, six months before the 2012 presidential election, coincided with a push by the White House and the Obama campaign to position Obama as strong on terror. Derek Harvey, a senior DIA official, served as a lead analyst on the DIA team that exploited the documents. Harvey recently told TWS that the U.S. government hasn’t “done anything close to a full exploitation.” ... These are not anonymous officials making frivolous claims against the commander in chief. They’re professionals with nearly a century of experience between them who are speaking out because of what they saw and what they’re seeing now. And they’re speaking for many in the ranks...The allegations that intelligence on ISIS was being manipulated at CENTCOM are not noteworthy because they’re new. In this case, they’re noteworthy because they’re not.

The president -- who refuses to meaningfully alter his ISIS strategy, focusing instead on slandering his domestic critics -- insists he's committed to the truth:

Internal investigations with significant political implications are always carried out with the utmost integrity and thoroughnessright

ICYMI: Amnesty International Condemns Palestinian Attacks On Israelis

Amnesty International has condemned the Palestinian attacks against innocent Israelis, calling them “reprehensible” and without justification in a statement released on November 20, according to the Jerusalem Post. Of course, this statement wasn’t without criticizing Israel for their alleged illegal activities:

“Deliberately attacking civilians is contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of international law and can never be justified. Both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities must ensure they take measures, in line with their obligations under international human rights law, to protect the right to life and to bring to justice in fair trials those responsible for such attacks."

Amnesty also took Israel to task for its policies of retribution, including house demolitions and "extrajudicial executions."

"Amnesty International has also documented a pattern of unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions, by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians and a series of attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians and homes over the past two months," the group said.

Israel has seen a surge in attacks against their citizens from Palestinians since October when erroneous reports of changes to the Temple Mount were circulated over social media. Additionally, the impatience over the peace process exacerbated the situation, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declaring that he was going to ignore the Oslo Accords. The Accords established the blueprint for a two-state solution.

Since Amnesty’s statement, there have been more attacks against Israeli citizens. A soldier was stabbed near Hebron, which has become one of the focal points for the violence, on November 25 near Fawwar Junction in the West Bank. YNetNews reported that the attacker, 19-year-old Mohammad Shobaki, was shot and killed.

The next day, Israeli security forces shot and killed another Palestinian man outside the Tapuah settlement in the West Bank. The Times of Israel added that the man exited his taxi and charged at Israeli solders with a knife shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The Jerusalem Post noted that it’s the same site where four Israeli soldiers were injured in a vehicular attack last Tuesday. In a separate incident, Israeli forces killed a 21-year-old Palestinian after conducting a raid to apprehend radicals and clear weapons caches in the village of Katane near Ramallah, according to Reuters. It was reported that rocks and petrol bombs were thrown at Israeli security forces that were forced to open fire after peaceful means to disperse the crowds failed.

Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, released transcripts of the interrogations of two Palestinian boys, aged 11 and 14, who committed a string of stabbing two weeks ago. In the interviews, the two boys, who are cousins, who wanted to avenge a relative, but added that they know they made a mistake; they didn’t want to kill anyone; and one of them said he wanted to be back in school and no longer wished to “resist the occupation” (via Times of Israel):

The Shin Bet security service on Wednesday published the transcript of an interrogation of two cousins aged 11 and 14 from East Jerusalem who went on a stabbing rampage two weeks ago and wounded a light rail security guard.


In their interrogation, the two children said they carried out the attack as an act of revenge, without planning in advance and with no encouragement from any adults.

“I met my cousin at the entrance to school,” said the 11-year-old, who was not named. He said they decided to revenge the death of their relative, Muhammad Ali, also from Shuafat, who was shot dead as he tried to stab a Border Police officer near the Damascus Gate of the Old City on October 10.


“We travelled from Shuafat to Damascus Gate in order to stab a soldier but did not do it because the soldiers were in groups and we didn’t find one standing alone,” recalled the 11-year-old. “Then he told me ‘let’s do an attack together to revenge the death of Muhammad Ali.’ He opened his bag and showed me the knife. At Damascus Gate I bought a pair of scissors and then we boarded the light rail and looked for Jews to stab.”

Two light rail security guards boarded the train, but the boys decided “not to stab them because there were two of them. Later on one of them got off and we immediately attacked the one that remained.”

“I stabbed him in his head, my cousin stabbed him in his chest and stomach until the guard pushed me and fired three bullets in my stomach,” said the 11-year-old.


“I wanted to die as a shahid [a martyr] but now I understand I made a mistake and I am sorry,” he was quoted saying.

At the end of his interrogation, according to the Shin Bet, he repeated: “I made a mistake. I want to be in school like any normal person. I don’t want to resist the occupation any longer.”

The older cousin confessed early on in his interrogation, but said he did not mean to kill anyone, the TV report said.

It appears the violence won't subside anytime soon, as a 30-year-old woman and a border police officer were wounded in knife attacks in Jerusalem yesterday.

Americans Stand in Solidarity with Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

Members of Witness Against Torture (WAT) gathered at Guantanamo Bay on Thanksgiving to fast in solidarity with the 107 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

One member wrote, “I want you to know that I’m here until the end and until you are free… I hope that one day, inshallah, we will greet each other at the Mosque, saying Assalamu Alaikum, knowing that you are my protector and that I am yours.”

Upon arriving last Wednesday, the protestors each faced the detention center and chanted: “Courage, Muslim Brother… You do not walk alone… We will walk with you… And sing your spirit home.”

As each member wore the orange jumpsuit in support of the prisoners, the group said that they were “representing the terrible pain endured by hunger strikers, past and present, at Guantanamo and that forced feeding continues to be used to wound the bodies and break the spirit of hunger-striking men.”

GOP Candidates: It's Wrong to Blame Pro-lifers for Planned Parenthood Shooting

No one would argue that Friday’s shooting near the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood is anything other than a tragedy. Another mass shooting has resulted in the loss of innocent lives. The suspect, Richard Lewis Dear, killed three people and injured 11 others after a standoff with police. An additional tragedy, however, is the liberal media's notion that the pro-life movement is to blame for the carnage.

According to The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti, this incident demands that “the violent radical language and lies about abortion stop.” Believing she now has a justification for her pro-abortion agenda, she launched into a lecture about pro-lifers' role in the violence:

The attack in Colorado, which left three people dead and nine wounded, was shocking, but it was also the predictable result of a culture that demonizes abortion, uses fantastical and false rhetoric about Planned Parenthood and allows politicians and activists to make false representations about women’s reproductive health.

Media pundit Sally Kohn offered a predictably similar analysis:

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, insists the attack on her clinic “was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion.” 

Even the Obama administration is blaming the shooting on anti-abortion rhetoric. Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement declaring the shooting a crime against women’s health care.

Republican presidential candidates are not letting liberals get away with their political agenda. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was one of the first conservative leaders to shame pro-abortion liberals for using this tragedy to demonize pro-lifers:

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, chafing at the suggestion that conservative criticisms of Planned Parenthood might have played a role in the attack at a Colorado clinic on Friday, lashed out on Sunday at the “vicious rhetoric on the left, blaming those who are pro-life.”

Authorities have yet to determine the shooter’s motive, he added.

Carly Fiorina, the only female GOP candidate, said liberals are using “typical left-wing tactics” in trying to use this tragedy to smear pro-lifers.  

Whatever his motive, Robert Dear does not represent the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers are dedicated to protecting and preserving life, not senselessly killing. We still don't have all the answers, but the media is quick to jump to conclusions to protect abortion clinics. 

The suspect will appear in court for the first time Monday.

State Department: Iran Never Signed Nuclear Deal, Which Isn't 'Legally Binding'

This story broke last week, just as millions of Americans were tuning out of the news cycle for Thanksgiving. Given the seriousness of the subject matter, it deserves a re-up. National Review reports:

President Obama didn’t require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not “legally binding,” his administration acknowledged in a letter to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) obtained by National Review. “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter. Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield’s response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of “political commitments” rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal’s terms.

Oh.  Joel Gehrke notes that Iran's president -- much like our own -- strongly discouraged his country's legislature from voting on the agreement at all, arguing that parliamentary approval would "create an obligation" and impose an "unnecessary legal restriction" on the regime.  Rouhani warned that passage would force him to sign the document, which he'd avoided doing.  A vote was held anyway; the deal was approved, 161-59.   It apparently remains unsigned.  (The United States Congress never formally weighed in on the terrible deal because Senate Democrats repeatedly obstructed any vote, in order to shield President Obama from the political humiliation of explicitly overruling strong bipartisan opposition).  The vote in Tehran was purely symbolic, of course.  The 'Supreme Leader' runs the show in that country, and he allowed his so-called Guardian Council to sign off on the accord, guaranteeing its adoption.  But according to our State Department, that "adoption" wasn't technically binding under international law.  The agreement represents "political commitments" secured by negotiators, we're told, "and is not a signed document."  Question: If this pact isn't binding or even signed, wouldn't the resulting flexibility cut both ways?  Couldn't the next American president simply tear up the empty signature page of the deal upon entering office and be rid of it?  Maybe so, legally speaking.  But Allahpundit lays out the grim reality that the die has already been cast:

We’re lifting $100 billion in sanctions in exchange for a legally binding promise of … nothing. The flip side of that, I guess, is that the deal’s not binding on us either; if the next president or even Obama himself wants to reimpose sanctions on a whim, that’s fair game. The problem with that logic, though, is that no one believes our European partners, who crave renewed access to Iran’s markets (and vice versa), will reinstate sanctions unless Iran cheats flagrantly and egregiously on the deal, to the point where it would humiliate the EU internationally to look the other way. One of Iran’s core goals in all this, re-opening its trade relationship with Europe, will be achieved whether or not the deal is binding. And once achieved, it’ll be nearly irreversible...there’s a difference between a country voting to implement an agreement voluntarily and making a binding promise to another country that they’ll implement it by signing a statement to that effect. In theory, the latter gives the treaty partner some legal recourse — international sanctions, most likely — that the former doesn’t. Like I said above, though, international sanctions are already almost certainly off the table, in which case what is Iran’s formal promise via signature really worth? Especially when — wait for it — everyone expects them to cheat regardless.

And there are many, many reasons to expect Iran to continue to cheat. It's what they do.  The trick for Iran was to convince America and Europe to pump tens of billions back into its struggling economy, in exchange for handing Western leaders a "historic document" to wave around as a triumph of war-avoiding diplomacy, or whatever.  The terrorist-financing regime knows full well that it can obfuscate and cheat at the margins for 10 to 15 years, supplying their enablers with various excuses to kick the can on re-imposing sanctions, then break out as an internationally-blessed nuclearized state just as soon as the deal's restrictions automatically expire.  The agreement leaves Iran's illegal nuclear program almost completely intact, only "paused" (we know how that's gone so far).  It also does not guarantee intrusive "snap" inspections at all suspected nuclear sites, erecting a lengthy appeal period in which Iran can at least partially cover its tracks as the international bureaucratic process churns along.  Furthermore, Iranian officials have flatly stated that certain military sites are not subject to any inspections, period.  Iran is furnished with the billions it craves and a legitimized nuclear program, Europe gets a lucrative new trading partner, and Obama gets a "legacy-enhancer" among the left-wing academic and cultural elite, even as it's opposed by a sizable majority of the country he leads.  This president's alleged triumph is appropriately embodied by an aspirational, unsigned document that contains many words that sound wonderful in theory, but appear dangerously naive in practice. It ultimately weakens America and strengthens a sworn enemy.  Alas, the seemingly-significant admission showcased in the headline of this post is dismissed as a silly technicality by the Obama White House -- which apparently sealed a controversial deal with Iran with the diplomatic equivalent of a handshake.  Smart power.  Meanwhile, Iran's emboldened leaders would like to remind the world that they remain fully committed loathers of the United States:

A video reportedly produced by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and posted to social media Tuesday blames the United States and its allies for the Paris terror attacks. The video, posted to a Facebook page affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and first reported by the Middle East Media Research Institute, explains that the U.S. created the Islamic State to advance its own agenda...The narrator further alleges that the U.S. trained moderate Syrian rebels to “join” the Islamic State in the Middle East and purposefully dropped weapons into the hands of IS terrorists there. He also suggests that IS has been benefiting “financially” from Western media reports. The video also includes footage of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivering congressional testimony about the rise of the Taliban in 2009 during which she stated, “Let’s remember here, the people we are fighting today, we funded.” “Of course, no one should be surprised by U.S. support for ISIS, as this was not unprecedented and American politicians had already admitted having supported al Qaeda,” the narrator says in the video. The video concludes with the narrator appearing to question al Qaeda’s involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The regime released another anti-American propaganda video in September, featuring images of flag-draped coffins and a warning that Tehran would "humiliate" the US military in a potential conflict. In addition to these PR provocations, Iran has test-fired an illegal long-range missile, "convicted" a Washington Post journalist, detained yet another American citizen, and intensified its cyber warfare against the US government.  Obama defenders and Iran apologists will downplay these moves as gestures designed to reassure domestic hardliners that the regime hasn't gone soft against the West.  It's all just internal political posturing, they intone knowingly, and it's still preferable to an unchecked nuclear advance.  If only the nuclear accord came close to achieving the goals laid out by supporters at the outset of negotiations.  It does not. And at the risk of betraying a lack of sophistication, perhaps the regime's "death to America" words and actions are exactly what they appear to be: Manifestations of abiding enmity harbored by a cabal of religious fanatics who've viewed America as the Great Satan ever since they violently seized control of their country several decades ago.

Obama Jets Off To Climate Change Summit in Fossil Fuel Powered Air Force One

In what he called a "powerful rebuke" to ISIS terrorists, President Obama is in Paris today for the COP21 summit on climate change

The meeting goes by several names - the United Nations Climate Summit, the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, or COP21, which stands for the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties that are part of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. The first COP meeting took place in Berlin in 1995, and the most famous of these was COP3, which resulted in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2009 conference in Copenhagen failed to produce a meaningful agreement, so world leaders are trying again to jumpstart the negotiations.

About 150 world leaders and than more than 40,000 delegates representing 195 countries will attend the conference in Paris.

Naturally, Obama flew to the summit in Air Force One, which burns approximately five gallons of jet fuel per mile at a cost of more than $200,000 per hour. The trip will leave nearly 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. 

Obama, who left the United States yesterday, has a series of meetings planned with a number of different leaders from around the world. Despite a number of scientists remaining skeptical about the science behind climate change and a series of scandals involving the cooking of numbers to "prove" global warming over the years, as far as we can tell climate change skeptics were not invited to the summit to offer a different point of view.

I should also note that golfing is President Obama's favorite past time, which of course is not an environmentally friendly activity.

Nutella Refuses to Make Personalized Jar for Girl Named "Isis"

In Australia, one is able to purchase a personalized label for a jar of Nutella, the popular chocolate and hazelnut spread. Unless, apparently, someone is trying to purchase a label for a person named Isis. A woman in Australia found this out the hard way, when she was told that she would not be allowed to purchase a personalized jar for her five-year-old niece, Isis Taylor. Her niece was named after the Egyptian goddess, and was born years before the creation of the Islamic State.

Despite pleas to Ferrero Australia to please reconsider and print the label, the company stood firm and will not budge due to the "sensitive nature" of the name.

Myer told Ms Taylor that Nutella had a protocol for acceptable names and directed her to Nutella's parent company, Ferrero Australia.

Ferrero chief executive Craig Barker personally contacted her the next day to stand by the company's position.

"I'm really quite upset by this," Ms Taylor told him. "You are actually making my daughter's name dirty. You are choosing to refuse my daughter's name in case the public refers to it negatively."

The Nutella campaign, which allows fans of the hazelnut spread to personalise a 750 gram or one kilogram jar, was launched in September. In a statement, Ferrero Australia confirmed the label in question was not approved for printing due to its sensitive nature.

"Like all campaigns, there needs to be consistency in the way terms and conditions are applied," the company said. "Unfortunately, this has meant there have been occasions where a label has not been approved on the basis that it could have been misinterpreted by the broader community or viewed as inappropriate."

This is ridiculous. The name "Isis" dates back to over 2,000 B.C., and the Islamic State was founded in 2013. Isis Taylor was not named after the group, and it's a fairly safe assumption that her mother would have chosen a different name had ISIS (the group) existed in its current form during her pregnancy. This child, and thousands of other people who are named "Isis," shouldn't be punished or encouraged to change their names because a group of terrorists decided to adopt their names as their moniker. "Isis" as a name has been used for thousands of years for peaceful purposes--it should not be controversial.

Disturbing: 57 Paris Airport Workers Are On Terror Watch List

The Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris has forced France to examine its security policies, including at the Charles de Gaulle Airport, where it was recently discovered that 57 employees who had access to airplanes and runways were on a terror watch list.

Now, the security passes of 86,000 workers at the Paris airport will be reviewed, according to a report by the Sunday Times of London.

Police carried out extensive searches of the airport under state-of-emergency powers after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed and 350 injured by Islamic State militants.

Belgium, where several of the Paris attackers had lived, also has pulled security badges from several airport workers after discovering that some had links to jihadis who had traveled to Syria.

Meanwhile, anxiety has been brewing about radicalism among bus, Metro and railroad workers.

Samy Amimour, who blew himself up in the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, managed to get a job as a bus driver while on a watch list.

The recent finding of Arabic graffiti on four planes at two French airports, including one that had “Allahu Akbar” written on a fuel tank hatch, has only increased security concerns. While the graffiti in and of itself is not harmful, it raises serious questions about who has access to restricted airport locations. 

Planned Parenthood Thanks 'Scandal' For Abortion Episode

ABC's "Scandal" lived up to its name last week when main character Olivia Pope decided to get an abortion during the show's winter finale. Planned Parenthood was one of the first to sing the show's praises:

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards offered her own statement, thanking producer Shonda Rhimes for doing her organization a service.

"Tonight, the millions of people who tune into Scandal every Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care is under attack...Never one to shy away from critical issues, Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception conseling, STI testing, cancer screenings and safe, legal abortion — millions of people would suffer."

Nowhere in Rhimes' script was a monologue explaining how thousands of lifesaving pregnancy centers are available to women throughout the country to meet their maternal needs. The misleading notion that women would have no access to healthcare as a result of defunding Planned Parenthood is just too good a plot for Hollywood to pass up. 

The Federalist points out that Shonda Rhimes has often used her ABC dramas to promote abortion.

On “Grey’s Anatomy,” Cristina Yang decided to abort her husband’s child over his objections. The reasoning was sloppy at best—mostly for convenience and to hurt her husband by declaring he did not deserve a say in the fate of his own child. Rhimes’s spin-off, “Private Practice,” spent numerous storylines allowing OB/GYN Addison Montgomery to pontificate about abortion and even agree to abort a 19-week-old baby despite the objections of the ostensibly “pro-life” partial owner of the practice.

Rhimes knows her primetime hits are perfect opportunities to politicize a controversial issue.

As if the "Scandal" scene wasn't disturbing enough, producers chose to play the song "Silent Night" in the background as Pope went through with the procedure.

Putin Places Sanctions On Turkey Over Jet Downing

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for sanctions against Turkey on Saturday after they downed a Russian jet earlier in the week.

The sanctions include a ban on some goods and labor contract extensions for Turks working in Russia, according to The Associated Press. It does not include specifics on what goods are to be banned.

The decree also calls for an end to chartered flights from Russia to Turkey as well as for Russian tourism firms to halt sales of vacation packages that include a stay in Turkey.

The incident has sharpened Russian-Turkish tensions over the four-year civil war in Syria, where Syrian President Bashar Assad's backers, Russia and Iran, have clashed with the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS.

The move comes on the heels of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing remorse about bringing the aircraft down, saying his government is “really saddened” by it. He did not offer a formal apology, however—something Moscow demanded.  

Erdogan said he hoped the incident wouldn’t escalate and lead to “saddening consequences.”

"We are truly saddened by this incident," he continued. "We wish it hadn't happened as such, but unfortunately such a thing has happened. I hope that something like this doesn't occur again."

Putin’s administration said the incident was a “stab in the back” and has refused to meet with Erdogan. 

CIA: We Should Not Bomb Certain ISIS Targets Because it May Harm Environment

Former CIA director Michael Morell said last week that the White House has hampered the intelligence community's ability to attack oil fields and oil trucks controlled by ISIS.  Morell said that, “we didn’t go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage, and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure."  He went on to say that there was a pretentious feeling in the war room that bombing ISIS oil targets would indeed cause environmental damage.  

On November 18th, Colonel Steve Warren said that striking oil trucks owned by ISIS may cause harm to the drivers who may be innocent.  

So, this is a decision that we had to make. We have not struck these trucks before. We assessed that these trucks, while although they are being used for operations that support ISIL, the truck drivers, themselves, probably not members of ISIL; they're probably just civilians. So we had to figure out a way around that.

An entire script of Colonel Steve Warren's press briefing can be viewed here.  

'Enough Is Enough': Obama Calls For More Gun Control in Wake of Shooting

President Obama has called for more gun control in the wake of the shooting at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado.

“The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence,” Obama said in a statement on Saturday.

While acknowledging the motive is still unknown, he said the situation was “not normal” and “we can’t let it become normal.”

“If we truly care about this—if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience—then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”

Three people, including Officer Garrett Swasey, died in the shooting. 

Saudi Arabia Threatens to Sue Anyone Who Compares Their Justice System to ISIS

Saudi Arabia is threatening to sue anybody on Twitter who says that their justice system is similar to ISIS. This threat came after it was announced that poet Ashraf Fayadh would be executed for apostasy--which is a capital crime in Saudi Arabia.

Apparently, Saudi Arabian authorities are upset that someone could read a story like this and determine that it sounds similar to the actions of the Islamic State.

From The Independent:

"The justice ministry will sue the person who described ... the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like'," a justice ministry source told newspaper Al-Riyadh.

The Kingdom is yet to identify the potential Twitter user, or specify a possible penalty.

"Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity", the source seemingly told the pro-government newspaper.

They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial "any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom".

An easy way for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to avoid comparisons to ISIS would be to not execute a poet (who claims to be a faithful Muslim) for supposedly renouncing Islam. Additionally, allowing the accused to have legal representation and a fair trial would also be generally regarded as "ensuring human dignity."

Saudi Arabia is the only country that regularly carries out public executions. A total of 152 people have been executed in the country this year.

Down 12 Points, Trump Has Biggest Poll-to-Poll Decline in Months

Is Trump-mentum finally slowing down? While this is only one poll and the GOP establishment is still in panic mode over Trump’s continued lead, a Reuters/Ipsos survey released Friday shows the GOP frontrunner lost 12 points in less than a week, “his largest single poll-to-poll drop since he took the primary lead in July,” The Hill reports.

The rolling poll, which was conducted from Nov. 23 to Nov. 27, still has the real estate mogul at the top, finding favor among 31 percent of Republicans. However, support for Trump is down from a peak of 43 percent, which was registered on Nov. 22.  

Reuters points to some of his recent controversial remarks, which may be to blame for the drop.

The dip follows criticism of Trump for comments he made in the aftermath of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.

Following the attacks, Trump told an NBC News reporter that he would support requiring all Muslims within the United States to be registered to a special database, which his critics have likened to the mandatory registration of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Trump has also been criticized for flailing his arms and distorting his speech as he mocked a New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, who is disabled.

Trump mocked the reporter as he defended his unsubstantiated assertion that during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, he watched on television as "thousands and thousands" of people in New Jersey cheered while the World Trade Center fell.

But it wasn’t only Trump who slipped in the poll. Ben Carson also dropped with only 15 percent of Republicans saying they’d support him.

At more than 8 percent, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz tied for third place, followed by Gov. Jeb Bush, who came in at 7 percent.

Suspect in Custody After Shooting at Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood UPDATE: Three People Have Died, Shooter Identified

Following a lengthy standoff with police, the suspect in the shooting Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Co. has surrendered to police and is in custody. His name and motive have not yet been released.

Eleven people, including a reported five police officers, were injured in the shooting. The standoff began a little after 11:30 a.m. local time and ended just before 5 p.m.

From NBC News:

The gunman walked out of facility just before 5 p.m. local time, and officers took him into custody, officials told NBC News.

Several more people were injured, with the total now at 11, sources familiar with the incident told NBC News.

Police said they could not immediately say whether anyone died.

"At this point I have as many questions as you do," Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey told reporters before heading to the hospital to visit injured officers.

Police are still clearing the building, now a crime scene, to make sure several unidentified items that the gunman brought with him were not dangerous, police said.

The condition of any of the people transported to the hospital was not immediately known.

UPDATE: One officer shot has passed away.

UPDATE: Two more people have died.

UPDATE: The shooter has been identified, per 9News Denver.

Active Shooter Near Planned Parenthood Location in Colorado UPDATE: Suspect Has Surrendered to Police

UPDATE TEN: Eleven people, including five police officers, have been transported to the hospital, per Lt. Catherine Buckley.

UPDATE NINE: CBS News is confirming that the suspect has surrendered to the police and is in custody. The standoff has ended.

UPDATE EIGHT: Per the police scanner, one suspect has reportedly surrendered and reportedly has been detained. Still waiting for official confirmation, and the building still has to be cleared.

UPDATE SEVEN: Per Lt. Catherine Buckley of the CSPD, there is one suspect, and his identity has not been confirmed. He brought several items with him in duffel bags inside and outside of the Planned Parenthood, and the scene is still considered to be "active." Civilians are being evacuated. The events started at the Planned Parenthood and it is "too soon" to determine a motive for the suspect. The total number of casualties is not known. The shooter is still firing on officers, and a fifth officer is possibly injured.

UPDATE SIX: KRDO is saying that four police officers and five civilians have been injured.

UPDATE FIVE: Civilians inside the Planned Parenthood are being rescued by the SWAT team. Reports suggest that several people so far have emerged from the clinic and are reportedly uninjured.

UPDATE FOUR: The shooter may not be contained.

UPDATE THREE: Witnesses are saying the shots were fired from Chase Bank, with the suspect then "ducking into" the Planned Parenthood as the police arrived.

Colorado Springs police say the shooter has "no connection" to Planned Parenthood.

UPDATE TWO: The Associated Press is reporting that three officers have been injured, but the shooter has been contained.

UPDATE: It appears that the shooting was "near" the Planned Parenthood location, not "inside." The shooter barricaded himself in the clinic after wounding a police officer outside of an eye care center.


Original post:

Details are rather sparse at the moment, but an active shooter has been reported at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs, Colo.

One police officer has reportedly been shot in the hand while another one has been hit. Per CBS, the shooter has barricaded himself inside the clinic.

This post will be updated as details emerge.

China Bars Miss World Canada From Entering Country for Pageant

China is set to host the annual Miss World pageant on December 19, in the city of Sanya, on Hainan Island. If the host nation gets its way, one contestant won't be there: Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin, who was barred from entering the nation and was denied a visa by the pageant organizers. She was able to travel to Hong Kong, but was not allowed on her flight to mainland China. Lin is a human rights activist and has spoken out about China's rights abuses and lack of religious freedom, and she believes she is being punished for these views.

Lin released a statement on her Facebook page, and did not hold back from identifying various abuses committed by the Chinese government.

Hi everyone, all of your support has been amazing! Thank you so much. Here is my statement to the press today: As you...

Posted by Anastasia Lin on Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lin was born in China, but moved to Canada when she was 13 and is now a Canadian citizen. Canadian citizens are permitted to obtain a landing visa when they arrive in Sanya.

This is absurd. A country hosting an international competition, be it the Olympics (which China is hosting in 2022), World Cup, or a beauty pageant, should not be barring competitors from entering the country for the event. Shortly after her victory in Miss World Canada, Lin's father, who still lives in China, was harassed by Chinese officials and cut off all contact with her.

Perhaps even more maddening is the Miss World Organization's lack of support for its contestant. Instead of pressuring the host nation to allow Lin into the country for the competition, they have merely offered her the chance to compete in 2016's Miss World finals. The 2016 finals will occur in Seoul.

Instead of barring a beauty queen from entering the nation for telling the truth about the horrors of how Chinese citizens are stripped of basic human rights, maybe China should...stop stripping citizens from their basic human rights. Just a thought.

Unreal: Anti-Gun DC Police Chief Urges Public to ‘Take Down’ Active Gunman If Possible

What should D.C. residents do if confronted with an active shooter situation? According to police chief Chief Cathy L. Lanier, the “best option for saving lives before police can get there” would be for citizens to try to subdue, or even kill, the gunman.

Lanier was asked during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview how people should respond to being near an active gunman, like what happened in Paris earlier this month.

“Your options are run, hide, or fight,” she said. “If you’re in a position to try and take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”

To anyone paying the slightest attention to the fight over gun laws in the District, Lanier’s statement is curious, given that she’s been an outspoken proponent of gun control in D.C., which already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.  

The District for decades had outlawed handguns until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the ban in 2008. Since then, city leaders have enacted restrictive laws that are still being challenged in court by gun owners and pro-gun activists.

City regulations allow only those who can demonstrate a “good reason” to need to carry a handgun to be eligible for a concealed-carry permit. Statistics provided by the Metropolitan Police Department indicate that as of Nov. 14, the department has approved 48 permits out of 298 applications. Another 185 have been denied, and the remainder are pending.

“This is sound advice,” said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, reports The Washington Times. “But considering the draconian gun laws in the District, it will remain difficult, if not impossible, for most private citizens to do what the chief is suggesting.”

The NRA was equally supportive—but perplexed—by Lanier’s “ironic” comments.

“We only hope that this means she will begin to issue concealed-carry permits to law-abiding citizens so they won’t have to ‘take out’ armed terrorists with their bare hands,” said NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker.

Another TSA Fail: Man Nearly Boards Airplane With Stolen Boarding Pass

Between forcing grandmothers to strip, to missing tons of loaded guns, and confiscating Buzz Lightyear toys, the TSA has not been having a banner year in the headlines. That trend continued on Thursday, when a story broke about how earlier in November, a convicted sex offender in Utah using a stolen boarding pass was able to pass through security and nearly made it on to the airplane.

From AP:

Michael Salata, 61, was arrested on Nov. 5 after boarding the Southwest Airlines flight, according to jail records obtained Thursday.

He had grabbed a boarding pass that a woman accidently left at a check-in kiosk and used it to get through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, said Craig Vargo, chief of airport police.

"He tried to make it seem like it was a mistake, that the boarding pass printed incorrectly, or that he grabbed the wrong boarding pass," Vargo told the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper that first reported the story.

It's unclear why the incident was not disclosed by authorities until 20 days after it happened.


Salata was detained after the woman who had left the pass at the kiosk checked in using a replacement ticket that had been uploaded to her phone, Vargo said.

Despite the fact that there's effectively zero chance the name on the ticket was "Michael Salata" (considering it belonged to a woman), the TSA is saying that they didn't do anything else wrong as the man was properly screened and wasn't carrying anything dangerous. Which still isn't comforting--what is the point of having a "no-fly" list or other security measures if the TSA agent can't be bothered to see if the person holding the ticket has an ID that matches the name on the ticket? Salata shouldn't have even gotten to the part of the security process that involves an x-ray screening: he should have been stopped immediately when his name didn't match the one on the ticket. That is security 101.

It's also considerably weird that the incident wasn't reported for nearly three weeks after it occurred. What could they possibly have been waiting for? This is unacceptable.

As a reminder, the TSA has yet to stop a single terrorist.